Friday, December 8, 2017


Last year my 7th and 8th grade Media Class students participated in Hour of Code and we all learned so much. Hour of Code became more than an hour and it was a lot of fun as well. As a teacher or parent you do not need to know how to code to participate and use the Hour of Code materials.  A nonprofit group has put together everything you need to participate and it's FREE. There is something for everyone K-12. Watch the introductory video and then get involved!

Monday, December 4, 2017


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Some of the most meaningful lessons are the ones that come from unexpected people, places and things. Katherine Applegate, author of Newbery-Medal Award winner The One and Only Ivan, continues to distinguish herself for helping young and old readers alike understand complex themes while providing meaningful doable solutions. I particularly enjoyed Dominique Browning's review in The New York Times but only read it after I finished the book. If you are looking for a great read for your classroom to teach tolerance this may be for you. I would plan it for a March/April read culminating in a May 1st wishtree event. However, wishtree is a good read anytime and has many different possible lesson extensions from a science unit on trees to a focus on fact vs. opinion. I also believe this book would be a great family/home schooler read. Check out Common Sense Media's review if you want more information before you read it. I've also included the book trailer below. Email me if you need more ideas to teach with this wonderful story.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


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Fox and the creators of ICE AGE have adapted Munro Leaf's The Story of Ferdinand. The movie has an amazing cast of characters with Ferdinand being played by the one and only John Cena - sure to be a selling point to our kids! Once again I will get on my soapbox and ask you to read the book first! What I can see from the trailers is that they take themes from the original book and embellished them.
I have read the Munro Leaf book to hundreds of children and they love the story. It's a reflective, quiet and touching story. Nearly all of my classes that I read the book with also acted it out in Reader's Theater and we were all amused by the 1938 Academy Award winning short cartoon by Disney that you can also watch here.

The Story of Ferdinand is listed as one of the best children's books of all time and not only allows us to not judge a "book or bull" by it's cover but to accept people for who they are. I also make paper flowers with the students that they can keep. They mimic Ferdinand smelling the flowers.
The movie is coming out at a perfect time for the holidays but why not take a few minutes and read the original book first. Students are often hesitant at first when they see the black and white illustrations but they are quickly captured by the story. We also discuss his understanding mom,  bull fights and find the country of Spain on the map. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


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I've made a few tweets and Facebook posts about the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio and the movie that opens November 17th. Wonder is a fabulous book and the movie looks like it will be similarly fantastic. Those who know me know that I'm a huge fan of reading the book first but you can still check out the movie trailer below. This is a great family read (20 minutes a day!) and perfect for an upper elementary and/or lower middle school class. Ultimately Wonder is a great book that anyone at any age will love.

Monday, October 16, 2017


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I have had wonderful success with a unit on collections with 2nd graders. You could also use these same materials with different grades, but for me 2nd grade was perfect. I generally started the unit with a brief discussion about collecting and collections. As a whole group we ask ourselves, "What is a collection?" Some of the big ideas this unit explores include how collections benefit people, how collecting and collections help us learn new things, and how we develop personal interests and study something in depth. I always share a few items from some of my collections and then we begin reading about a boy named Donavan who collects words in Donavan's Word Jar by Monalisa DeGross. This unit involves many more books (some listed below) and we transition into 2nd graders first research project where they present their collections to the class. Students also make their own word jars and learn how to use a dictionary. Finally, we graph the entire 2nd grade collections - during my time at Orchard Gardens that meant graphing what 4 classes of 2nd graders collect! Inbox me if you would like more details on how to structure this unit and a detailed list of standards and objectives.

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Monday, October 9, 2017


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Today I share a non-fiction book I am currently reading that I LOVE! A History of Boston in 50 Artifacts by Joseph M. Bagley - it's fascinating! Bagley, the current City Archaeologist of Boston was inspired to write this book after hearing an NPR story about the release of a book in 2011 by the British Museum entitled A History of the World in 100 Objects (MacGregor). In addition to being a great read, all the author proceeds of A History of Boston in 50 Artifacts go to the City Archaeology Program. You can follow the City of Boston Archaeology on Facebook or if you prefer their website. Many middle and most high school students could read this book on their own. Younger students would benefit from reading this book with a teacher or parent.

For the record, I am generally reading several books at any one time!

Saturday, October 7, 2017


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The movie for Wonderstruck will be released this October and the trailers I've seen are absolutely amazing. I do encourage you to read the book first. Here's a link to Brian Selznick's Wonderstruck page.
After reading Wonderstruck with my 4th and 5th grade students we made Museum Books. The Museum Books had 4 rooms that they curated to explain their topic. Student topics included New York City in 1977, Lightning Safety, The Panorama Museum and the Gunflint Lake Region. I shared my own model of the book as we read Wonderstruck and they couldn't wait to do their own. Museum Books can be created for many different books or research  projects. Contact me for more information.
One of the rooms in my sample.